BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker provided an update on Massachusetts’ response to coronavirus Tuesday afternoon and announced legislation he filed to address challenges faced by municipalities and school districts resulting from COVID-19.

Ten additional labs are now up and running in Massachusetts in an effort to expand testing capabilities.

“I also want to remind folks that as the number of test we do in Massachusetts goes up, we will expect the number of cases, the number of positive tests, to go up as well,” Baker said.

To date, about 9,000 residents have been tested for COVID-19. That’s up from 6,000 on Sunday.

Baker also announced that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has received a shipment of personal protective equipment from the strategic national stockpile assets. More than 750,000 masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves are being distributed to health care facilities throughout the state.

Lastly, the governor introduced the state’s new coronavirus text alert system. Residents who wish to receive text updates from the state regarding COVID-19 can sign up by texting “COVID-19” to 888-777.

“An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and School Districts Resulting from COVID-19”

The Baker-Polito administration filed a piece of legislation Tuesday to address challenges faced by cities and towns and school districts resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The bill would:

  • Authorize the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon the recommendation of the commissioner, to modify or waive the requirements of the competency determination for high school graduation.
  • Authorize the commissioner, to modify or waive the requirement for the MCAS
  • Give regional school districts flexibility in cases they are not able to approve budgets by the statutory deadline
  • Allow cities and towns flexibility on tax collections, such that they can allow residents more time to pay taxes without penalty
  • Allow cities and towns to change their tax bill due date and extend the deadline for property tax exemptions and deferments to June 1
  • Allow cities and towns to utilize retirees so they can tap qualified workers when their workforce may be disrupted
  • Allow for electronic signatures on search warrant applications
  • Allow restaurants to offer alcohol to go as part of their takeout and delivery orders

To read the full proposal, click here.

On Monday, Baker issued a stay at home advisory and announced that all non-essential businesses must close effective noon Tuesday. Here is a list of essential businesses in Massachusetts that will remain open during Baker’s emergency order:

OPEN: Essential businesses in Massachusetts

The stay at home advisory does not mandate residents to stay home. Instead, it urges residents to avoid unnecessary outings and activities. Massachusetts residents are still allowed to leave their homes to go for a walk, to grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors offices, and any other essential business.

“I do not believe I can or should order U.S. citizens to be confined to their homes for days on end,” Baker said Monday.